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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Return to the mouse-infested truck: This time, success! Well, sort of

After writing three stories in September about my purchase of an essentially abandoned 2008 Chevy Silverado 3500HD-at a cost of only one-tenth of its book value, largely because it had a mouse infestation problem-some folks might think I couldn't squeeze one more story out of it.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/the-hack-mechanic/return-to-the-mouse-infested-truck-this-time...
26 REPLIES 26
1210qtrton
Intermediate Driver

This is a very interesting story, but I can't help but wonder if we've reached a tipping point of time investment that should have been put to use in taking the heater box out from the get go? Research time/work time/back and forth from the store time...how much time was invested? Maybe it wasn't a ton but I'd be curious to know.
Tinkerah
Engineer

After all the running around and disappointing results it's easy to say "should've taken it apart anyway" but at the outset, you never think the short cut will become the long way around.
CitationMan
Gearhead

There's a new video on the Car Wizard's YouTube channel on replacing the heater core on a 2001 Chevy Avalanche, and it is the automotive equivalent of open heart surgery. An unbelievable number of parts have to be removed to get to the heater core. In the video you get to see the top and bottom of the entire heater box as in the article photos, too. Rob took the prudent path on this repair.

9lbhammer
Advanced Driver

I agree. I've done a few heater cores and they're always a pain. All it takes is one random rattle in the dash after I've spent all weekend detailing with plastic clips that are older than I am to make me want to burn the car to the ground.
gpsuya
Advanced Driver

@1210qtrton
I agree, but I just realized if Rob had done that, it would have been far less entertaining for us!
1210qtrton
Intermediate Driver

No argument with that - the guy loves a challenge and I like that he brings us along.
PRScott
Instructor

Yes , instead of a heater box and mouse **bleep** he could have written about something , well , interesting.
DrillNFill
Pit Crew

This has been a fun series of articles. I’m not sure if I could have sat in the truck to take it home even, knowing what lies within. Rob I hope you can keep up with those odors and that all your shots are up to date!
CitationMan
Gearhead

I now understand all those people I've seen driving alone with a mask on.
Reinhold_Weege
Instructor

HA!
Gary_Bechtold
Specialist

So what ever you do don't buy another M Car or you will be cleaning Mouse leftovers for the rest of your life.
TomBrattin
Intermediate Driver

I almost spit my coffee out laughing with:
"then channeled my inner proctologist, hunting meticulously for little polyps on the heater core fins,"
cyclemikey
Detailer

I can truly sympathize with this effort. I have a mint-condition, low-miles C7 Corvette in the garage that I never drive because the stench from the HVAC system is so awful. I can't even imagine what it would take to get to the components on that car, and the Chevy dealer acts like they've never heard of a problem like this, so it just sits there. Been sitting there for 2 years now.
CitationMan
Gearhead

Is your issue mouse related or did it come that way from the factory? Maybe talk with your insurance company to see if you can file a claim. That’s too nice a car to let sit. 

cyclemikey
Detailer

No, the car was fine until the pandemic hit and it went unused for a while in the early days when we were kind of locked down and not really going anywhere. That's when (I assume) a mouse crawled up in there somewhere and died. That or it's gotten moldy in there, but it smells more like dead something. I don't have a problem paying for repair; the problem is I live in a small city where the local Chevy dealer's service department is incompetent and uninterested in actual, you know...service. 

CitationMan
Gearhead

@cyclemikey
I totally get it. I'm a C7 owner and the incompetent dealers scare me. I had a great dealer in Illinois, but when I moved to North Carolina I had a hard time finding a dealer with Corvette Technicians just to do an oil change correctly on a dry sump engine. I ended up searching the list of "Top 100 Corvette Dealers" in sales, and now take my car to a dealer in South Carolina, and not to the dealers that are close to my house. The top dealers are all going to have dedicated Corvette Technicians. Also, on the Chevrolet dealer locator, my dealer is listed as being a "Corvette Signature Dealer". None of this guarantees a good mechanic, but probably does increase your odds of finding one. It also helps to have a good Service Advisor who knows Corvettes. Call up one of these dealers and get a quote on replacing the heater box, which is the worst case scenario. Some of these dealers will even pick up your car and trailer it to the dealership, so that will save you an awful ride. Good luck!
dhaugh
Detailer

Long before face masks were a thing (and God knows we'd love to be back to a point where they're not a thing) I had to get my dad out of a manual transmission car and into an automatic. One too many strokes made his left leg not do what he wanted it to. The first part was easy, find him a reliable car with a slushbox, Volvo 244 was the answer, a nice used one with lots of life left in it, the problems first manifested themselves leaving my driveway, he went for the clutch. After peeling our faces off the windshield I reminded him to glue his left foot to the floor, an automatic has a much wider brake pedal. The next problem came up when he stopped for gas on his way home, the phone call was something like, this GD car won't start, I asked, what gear is it in? The response was something along the lines of JC, who thinks of the GD sh.t. Entertaining to be sure

But, this is a mouse story, not a story about my dad, which I could write and write about for an eternity. His previous car was an '89 Honda Accord with all the bells and whistles, and, a stick shift which he could no longer handle. I tucked the Accord in a corner of my barn (we lived on a farm at the time) and let it slumber. 4 years later my niece learned to drive and she needed a car, the Accord was the perfect fit. I went and opened the door after 4 years and clearly the mice had made it their new home. I donned a Tyvek throw away suit, hooked up the negative battery cable and, to my surprise, it started right up. I backed it out of the barn and left it outside with all the windows, doors, hood and hatchback open for 2 days. I then got to the serious business of making it road worthy. I removed all the seats and shampooed them, I had to throw away the carpets though. My niece drove that car through high school and through college and she affectionately referred to it as the Mouse Mobile. Even after 6 years, every now and then you'd be treated to a little tufting of nesting material every time you turned on the defroster or the AC, and after 6 years the smell never really went away. Mouse piss is one of the few odors that can't be eradicated, ever! But, if you can get over the odre' a car can still fulfil its purpose.
74firebird
Pit Crew

the thing to do now is slice onions, spread them on the floor on paper. then wait a week. take out the onions put in bread slices in, (white bread) that will soak up the onion smell your car will be good again. ford pick ups are the same way pull the dash to get to the heater core.
rxk9394
Intermediate Driver

The value of this write-up is the logical progression of troubleshooting steps needed at times to completely resolve an issue. My hat is off to Rob to lay it all out for us to hopefully consider these steps if we are ever in a similar situation.

As far as the math involved in time needed for a series of quick fixes that maayyybbbeee might work vs just take the time to tear it down and fix it right one time... I was in a similar situation where I had a mouse die somewhere inside my vehicle during hot weather. When Rob mentions the word "stench", that doesn't quite fully describe the putrid, vomit-inducing smell that accompanies such a situation. If you need to rely on that vehicle you will try every quick fix to try to just make it go away... I had a bad flashback just remembering it, it was brutal...
77GL
Detailer

It's a lot of work to avoid work.
eighthtry
Advanced Driver

The exercise was well worth the time spent. It adds a bunch of knowledge as to how to approach things. The little tricks. It's like my garage. I have a bunch of spare parts, metal, etc. that I absolutely do not need. But every now and then........... I can be bad about throwing parts at a car and missing what was really wrong with it. More than once. It is irritating.

I like the approach. I can vouch that removing and reinstalling dashboards is something best left to highly skillld mentally ill people
Marv48
Intermediate Driver

Rob, Eastwood sells a product called internal frame coating that comes with a 20" wand that will fit on most paint rattlecans. I think that would have worked very well to get your cleaner in the right place. Great series of articles, I enjoy your writing.
thehackmechanic
Advanced Driver

Marv, I looked at that wand. It seemed too thick and stiff to me to be able to do what I needed.
oldcars
Intermediate Driver

It's hard to believe how many people love a hack story. Promoting ill fixes. And then they sell there hacked up vehicles to someone else.
Bartman442
Pit Crew

You definitely did it the hard way and still have somewhat questionable results. I worked at one of the two suppliers that developed and assembled that HVAC module (GMT900). I supported a high humidity development road trip to South Pardre island in Texas. A colleague and I rolled the I/P and swapped out the HVAC module in 4 hours in the hotel parking lot. Yes, I/P have a lot of fasteners and you will need to break into the heater loop and A/C loop, but it would still have been a faster and better fix.
eighthtry
Advanced Driver

I'm thinking there are bound to be other things that really needed updating or replacing that would be encountered with the dash off. But congratulations. Progress is progress, and maybe over time the smell goes away.